Even though he doesn’t pronounce his name the way you might at first expect, John James Christ III, a carpenter at Sam Houston State University, carries it proudly.
He pronounces it to rhyme with wrist, which is also the way that his German ancestors would have said it–as in Jesus Christus.
His daughter, Emily, 7, goes to a Christian school, Alpha Omega. His wife, Kenda, is nearing completion of her criminal justice degree at Sam Houston State and hopes to work in victim services.
He and his family are Lutheran.
He’s heard his share of what some might consider inappropriate jokes–when he was in public schools teachers sometimes mispronounced his last name and classmates tried to be funny by calling him “Christ the Lord” and “Jesus.”
“It didn’t bother me at all,” he says.
His family came to this country from Germany in the 1800s, and that’s about as close as he can guess. They were blacksmiths and carpenters and it’s all he ever really wanted to do.
When he was 7 he crafted his mother a key holder from a piece of wood, using a hacksaw.
By the time he was 12 he had his own table saw.
Since then he has built virtually every piece of furniture in his and his parents’ homes.
Now 38, he moved to Huntsville with his parents when he was 13. He graduated from Huntsville High School in 1986 and went right to work in carpentry-type jobs, first in a machine shop, doing home remodeling, and hiring on at Sam Houston State in 1992.
He is the only university carpenter who works for Residence Life, but there are other carpenters who work in the classroom, lab, and office areas.
His work includes replacing doors, repairing broken cabinets, building and rebuilding walls, sometimes installing carpet or ceramic tile, minor plumbing and electrical work, and even “little bit of painting.”
“I like my job,” he says, and sounds really sincere. “Some people say they hate to get up every morning. I like it here.”
About the only hobbies he could come close to claiming are fishing and camping, but he just mostly enjoys building things, even when he’s not at work at the university.
He likes what he does and is proud of his name.
“I think it’s a plus,” he says. “No matter where you go it turns heads. I’ve enjoyed having the name.”